Letters to the Editor, May 07, 2015

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 5:08pm

University should keep writing course

It was with great sadness and disappointment that I learned last week that City University will close its excellent master of fine arts programme in creative writing.

As a 22-year Hong Kong resident, I am proud to live in a city - situated at the centre of the region - that is taking on the responsibility of being a focal point for a new and virtual way of combining ideas from around the globe. I am saddened that such a fine programme that brings minds from different backgrounds together and nurtures artistic thought and endeavour is to be extinguished.

As a graduate of the course created by the tireless Xu Xi and taught by a faculty of as many as 18 international writers, this news touches me personally.

I have benefited since graduation by proudly highlighting my degree obtained at CityU when applying for and accepting not only a tertiary lecturer's post, but also subsequent writing and editorial work for international companies. I have recently become assistant non-fiction editor of an international literary journal, as well as coordinator of a Hong Kong-based literary group. My connection with the programme and the university helped me to land these posts and projects, and to bring a degree of gravitas to them, and I continue to emphasise my association with CityU.

On a personal development level, the master of fine arts process opened my mind to new approaches to writing.

Engaging in the course was the wisest move I made in the past five years.

It would be wonderful if the university would reconsider this decision.

However, failing such a move, I hope that the spirit of the creative writing programme will find the nurturing home it deserves elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Gregg Schroeder, Wan Chai

ICAC still has very important role to play

I refer to your editorial ("Public must stay vigilant on graft", April 16). Following the censure by the Legislative Council of former Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming, the ICAC has faced credibility issues. I think many Hongkongers were disappointed by the anti-graft organisation.

However, despite the revelations about Tong, I believe citizens should keep their faith with the ICAC.

It is empowered to act independently and be directly accountable to the chief executive.

It has always shown that its officers cannot be bribed. The ICAC will not tolerate graft and remains determined to fight corruption in Hong Kong.

It was established in 1974 to fight endemic corruption in government departments and elsewhere through law enforcement. It also had a role in preventing corruption through community education.

The government should consider if the courts should be empowered to hand out stiffer punishment for people found guilty of corruption.

If there is a perception corruption is getting worse, the administration must be seen to be dealing with the problem.

Phoebe Lai Wing-sze,Kowloon Tong 

Old stores part of collective memories

I was touched by the report about the convenience store that is closing its doors after almost 60 years, the Hudson Store, in Kowloon City ("Gone but not forgotten", April 15). Although this mini grocery only sold simple things like snacks, soda and toys, it was a place full of fond memories and evoked different feelings among customers.

They got to know the owner Wong Ming-kit and would try and solve the difficult Chinese riddles that he devised. He would reward anyone who could solve a riddle with a free soft drink.

The prices for goods stayed low despite rent increases over the years.

Mr Wong would not charge high prices because he realised that many customers had hard lives.

It was sad to read about this store having to close. And once news got out, students from nearby schools and other people visited for a last look. Some of them became quite emotional.

These traditional shops form some of the precious collective memories which are part of the past of Hong Kong.

Although the Hudson Store has closed, I hope that more of these businesses can stay open.

I also hope landlords will recognise how important these older retail outlets are and will charge reasonable rents so they can stay in business.

Hui Wing-lam, Tuen Mun

Education is the key to healthier diets

It is important there is sufficient public education in Hong Kong on health issues in order to curb the rising trend of obesity.

People with weight problems are more likely to be able to deal with them if they are equipped with the knowledge to design healthy diets.

The message about healthy eating should be promoted in schools where it can reach students. It helps if people can learn about good nutrition earlier in their lives. The wider population can be targeted through commercials on television.

Government departments have already done a lot to encourage citizens to have less sugar, salt and oil in their diets. However, there are so many fast-food restaurants in Hong Kong selling cheap food with a lot of sugar, salt and oil.

It is very difficult for citizens to resist the temptation offered by junk food. Eateries generally ignore government guidelines about, for example, reducing salt and sugar content.

It would be great if the government could monitor seasoning of dishes in restaurants, but this is not feasible. Therefore, good public education is the most effective way to get people to have healthier diets.

Jason Poon, Sai Kung 

Clap for Youth will really help youngsters

I support the expansion of the Jockey Club's HK$500 million life planning programme (Clap for Youth), which will help about 200,000 young people.

It can help youngsters navigate a path to adulthood and gives them a chance to become independent. The programme will enable young people to identify their interests in their search for career paths.

The career scheme can give young adults additional possibilities and choices. I believe it can help more youngsters develop into good citizens.

Suki Li, Sau Mau Ping

City should be better prepared

I refer to the letter by G. Bailey ("More scare tactics from Observatory", April 10). Apparently, your correspondent has failed to read my response, in these columns in January, to an earlier letter he wrote.

Quoting the Hong Kong Observatory, G. Bailey once again failed to produce a single piece of counter-evidence that would add value to this discussion.

Against the mounting scientific evidence on future projections and impact arising from climate change, all he could do was to throw stones and cast doubt with his unsubstantiated remarks.

Incredibly, his denial tactics even extended back in time against historical natural disasters that had actually happened. Nature being nature, any person with common sense is able to comprehend that extreme weather events in the past will surely recur some time in the future, if not even more severe than before due to climate change.

While Hong Kong has modernised infrastructures and effective weather warning systems, we should not be complacent. On the contrary, we should be better prepared, through lessons learnt from history and vigilance, to make Hong Kong a more climate-resilient city.

For your readers who would like to know more about climate change, the Observatory has published a booklet "Hong Kong in a Warming World", which can be downloaded online www.hko.gov.hk/climate_change/climate_change _e.pdf).

Lee Sai-ming, senior scientific officer, Hong Kong Observatory

Proposal will not boost labour force

Every government tracks how many students attend school, and for how many years.

Does anyone in the world count how many second-generation immigrants can read the first language of their parents?

The SAR government plans to encourage adult children of Hongkongers to move here and take professional jobs. I have discussed this with several such people who are already working here. Most are fluent in spoken Cantonese, but say only a few in their group can read Chinese, and even fewer can write it.

Growing up overseas, some took Chinese lessons on Saturday morning, or prayed in Chinese on Sunday, but they read only English material the rest of the week.

The number of highly trained, highly paid expats in Hong Kong is small.

Most good jobs here require literacy in Chinese.

A few hundred or a few thousand descendants of Hongkongers might displace expat professionals, but that will not increase the overall labour force.

Michael J. Sloboda, Tsim Sha Tsui